AUSTIN — Melanie Price grew up in Thousand Oaks, California: the location of Wednesday’s mass shooting that left 13 dead, including the shooter.
“Thousand Oaks is just one name on a really long list now, and it just happens to be where I’m from,” said Price.
“I’ve spent the whole morning just trying to really grasp the situation, and you know, figure out where people are, and who’s okay,” Price continued.
The shooter targeted Borderline Bar and Grill, a popular hangout for college students. Price said she’s been there plenty of times.
“If you live in or around Thousand Oaks, you know Borderline Bar,” said Price. Price moved to Austin in 2012 to go to the University of Texas, and never left. But Thursday morning, she woke up to dozens of texts from friends and family. She said she was in shock.
“Thousand Oaks is often named on all sorts of lists as one of the safest cities in the country, and we pride ourselves for that, as we should -- and as the Ventura County sheriff’s Department should. But now here we are, like I said, on the list of, a long, long list of places that have been hit by mass shootings like this,” said Price.
But for Price, there was an extra layer of fear. Her brother works for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
“I texted him immediately,” Price said, soon after she learned about the death of Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus, who died in the line of duty Wednesday night.
“I had just been relieved hearing that my brother was okay, and then trying to imagine being in the shoes of this family, who lost their husband, dad and member of the department is just horrific,” said Price.
According to Price, Wednesday night the bar hosted college students, allowing in those who are 18 years old and up.
“They’re pretty packed for a weeknight there,” said Price.
Price told KVUE that Borderline Bar and Grill was a popular place for line dancing.
“The community there is very into country music,” said Price. “In fact, as we’ve all been told this morning, a lot of people there last night were also at the Vegas shooting.” A gunman opened fire on a crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in October 2017.
“Borderline did a lot of events to support the community after that shooting, and now it’s hit there, which is just, I want to say shocking. Although every single one of these horrific shootings is so sickening, and everyone says you know you never think it will happen until it happens in your hometown; and you hear people say that, but I almost wouldn’t say that because it happens everywhere,” said Price.
For Price, she said this attack is still “raw and emotional,” but she knows the community will come together.
“It’s going to be months and years of this marking our city. And no one ever wants that to be the case, but there’s no escaping it now,” said Price.
Price's dad serves on the city council, and said they helped put together a fund for victims and their families. You can find that information here.